Texas State holds on for 72-69 win over South Alabama

Photo by Gerald Castillo

Texas State Men's Basketball

Sun Belt play hasn’t been easy for Texas State.

Three games completed, and the results have come down to a combined 12 points. The Bobcats feel they should be 3-0. But they’re not. Texas State split its opening road trip with a disappointing 66-62 loss to Appalachian State, where it held onto a seven-point lead with over six minutes remaining, and finished with a bounce-back 53-48 victory over Coastal Carolina on Sunday.

The Bobcats, however, found themselves on the right side of .500 in conference play on Thursday after defeating South Alabama, 72-69, inside Strahan Coliseum.

How big was Texas State’s victory over the Jaguars? It was humongous, sophomore guard Nijal Pearson said.

“We needed a win,” said Pearson, who finished with 12 points and seven rebounds. “I feel like we should be 3-0 right now but we’re not. So, we’ve got to take advantage of every game and get back to where we need to be.”

Pearson found himself in foul trouble in the first half, but he scored seven points in the final 1:38 minutes to give the Bobcats a 41-30 lead at the intermission. But the sophomore guard’s biggest points came with 1:46 remaining in regulation and Texas State clinging to a two-point lead. Pearson knocked down three free throws to give the Bobcats a 70-65 lead.

“I can’t say how big those free throws were by Nijal — 3-for-3 — that was huge,” head coach Danny Kaspar said. “So, those were such big free throws. You look at that margin: We win by three and he hits all three. If they don’t need a three, we still may be playing right now.”

Junior forward Alex Peacock, who paced the Bobcats with 18 points and six rebounds, gave the final touches with a basket off the glass with 26 seconds remaining to secure the victory.

“I thought (Peacock) did an excellent job,” Kaspar said. “I would give him the game ball, if I were to give anyone the gameball.”

Texas State received a career-high outing from senior forward Immanuel King. The big man's 16 points were new career mark. King also tallied five rebounds. His performance in the post helped Texas State outscore South Alabama, 30-20, in the paint.

The Bobcats benefited from its paint-scoring, second-chance points, and points off turnovers. Texas State forced 15 turnovers and received 22 points from them. The Bobcats added 30 points inside the paint and 21 second-chance points to will themselves to a 2-1 Sun Belt record.

“Within the game of basketball, there’s a bunch of runs,” Peacock said. “You know, a team might go 6-0 stuff like that so you get those gritty points they added up. They keep that cushion. We had that 10 point cushion with I think seven minutes that helps a lot.”

Texas State continues Sun Belt competition against Troy, who beat the Bobcats, 59-53, in the Sun Belt championship game in 2017, on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. in San Marcos.

Pearson said he isn’t focused on last year’s loss to the Trojans, but wants to win because it’ll help Texas State toward its goal of winning the Sun Belt this season.

“It’s just one game at a time,” Pearson said. “I mean, we won this one. It was a big win because (South Alabama was) undefeated (in conference), and Troy just lost … So we know they’re going to come in hungry, and we have history with them. So, I mean, we got to, it’s one game at a time.”

San Marcos Daily Record

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